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6 Signs Your Agile Teams Might Need Training

By Joe Mills | Feb 12, 2020 |  Agile,  Agile Training,  Product Owner,  ScrumMaster

When going through an Agile transformation, Agile teams often feel like they have a good handle on Agile and Scrum. But when asked about their progress toward the business outcomes their organization hopes to achieve by implementing Agile, their answer is not as confident.

This is not unusual. More often than not, leadership has not fully considered what business outcomes they hope to achieve through Agile. However, when pressed, they usually agree that their real interest isn’t in doing Agile. It’s actually rooted in the need to achieve important business outcomes like increased speed, customer satisfaction, market responsiveness, etc. Focusing on business outcomes enables the organization to look at the transformation from a broader perspective and understand that it impacts all levels of their organization. So how do you ensure teams are working towards your organization’s desired outcomes??

In this article, I have identified 6 signs that indicate your Agile teams and leaders need additional training to effectively identify and achieve your organization’s desired outcomes via Agile.  

Sign #1 : Teams lack clear team purpose

Teams that are unable to articulate the organization’s customer-focused vision and how their work ties into the greater whole (organizational strategy, vision, roadmaps, etc.) are  disconnected from the urgency and business outcomes driving the change. Without focus on desired business outcomes, teams won’t operate with their stakeholders and customers in mind. 

Through training, leadership and team members can learn how to clearly define which factors determine their success and how to implement effective feedback loops to validate the value or their work with customers.

Sign #2: Teams lack clarity regarding roles, responsibilities, and working agreements

Setting expectations around the way the members of an Agile team or group of teams prefer to work together creates a foundation of openness and accountability from the start. Organizations requiring teams to work with other teams often lack best practices for effective multi-team coordination and collaboration. 

In training, Agile teams gain clarity around roles and responsibilities, a shared and accepted set of working agreements, definitions of when work is ready to start, and what constitutes being “done” which can help teams get empowered to implement this new way of working.

Sign #3 : Inconsistent alignment on Agile experiences, best-practices, and terminology

Agile practices are often translated from multiple team members with different experiences implementing Agile. This can result in a lack of consistency on practices and terminology, and create hybrid mashups of various practices such as Waterfall, Scrum, ScrumBan, Kanban, XP, etc. This lack of consistency in understanding and practice impacts team effectiveness and is further amplified when operating at scale in large solutions.

Creating and maintaining a common foundation of knowledge can minimize the negative impacts of this and allow Agile teams and leaders to focus on what matters most. 

Sign #4: Practices are disconnected from the underlying Agile principles

When teams and leadership are disconnected from the underlying Lean-Agile Principles and practices, they don’t understand the “why” behind Agile practices and ceremonies. Rather than embracing them, these principles and practices are often viewed as overhead and micromanaging, which often results in teams just going through the motions with low engagement and a lack of transparency.

This disconnect from a deep-rooted appreciation of the desired Lean-Agile mindsets and value of building self-organized and empowered teams, leads to organizations not moving past command and control project-based thinking and practicing Scrum in name only.  

Sign #5: Ineffective story writing and work prioritization practices

In an Agile pull-based system of incremental delivery, it is very important that teams and the Product Owner constantly refine and prioritize work. This requires the Product Owner to work closely with their stakeholders and teams to make tough choices. The Product Owner should be taught effective techniques to help them make these choices based on highest business value delivery.

This pull-based system requires good story and feature writing skills, continuous refinement, and transparency at all levels of the organization and results in appropriately detailed, estimated, emergent, and prioritized backlogs. 

Sign #6 Teams are not delivering potentially shippable product increments frequently

An essential Agile principle is that teams should deliver working software frequently–ideally every couple weeks. If teams are not regularly demoing their fully integrated and potentially shippable solution in a production-like environment your organization likely suffers from development silos, lack of automation, and immature continuous integration and deployment practices. To be a market-responsive organization, the capabilities to deliver frequently and quickly get feedback are critical. 

However, teams often lack necessary skills to implement development best practices such as pair-programming, refactoring, Test-Driven Development, emergent architectures, and Agile automated deployment strategies. Without the infrastructure in place to remove obstacles and enable frictionless promotion of code to deployment and eventually to customers, teams will be unable to deliver frequently.

Conclusion

If your teams exhibit any of the signs above, Agile training is a simple, cost-effective solution to get your organization working towards your desired business outcomes. Explore our Agile training services to learn how we can help address your Agile teams’ specific challenge.

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